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As Gov. Hochul pulls housing proposal from budget, Greenport discusses accessory apartments

Village of Greenport trustees discussed a state plan to widely legalize accessory dwelling units at a work session last Thursday, even as Gov. Kathy Hochul revoked the provision from her budget proposal. 

The proposed legislation had been heavily criticized by local lawmakers, who expressed concerns mainly about the loss of local control and potential for overdevelopment. Village attorney Joseph Prokop expressed concern last Thursday about how the legislation, if passed, would impact the village.

“The governor, as I understand it, did attend a session with the board of the New York Conference of Mayors. I spoke to a mayor in particular who attended that meeting with her and he said she apparently is aware that there’s opposition to the law statewide, her version of it at least,” Mr. Prokop said.

The governor said in a statement that she’s heard “real concerns about the proposed approach on accessory dwelling units” and understands members of the state legislature “believe a different set of tools is needed, even if they agree with the goal of supporting the growth of this kind of housing.” She submitted a 30-day amendment to her budget legislation that removed requirements on localities “in order to facilitate a conversation about how we build consensus around solutions,” according to her statement.

“I believe that increasing our housing supply is essential to the growth of our economy, to reaching our lower carbon footprint, to achieving our goals of equity and inclusion, and to addressing the affordability challenges faced by so many New Yorkers,” she said. “I’m glad that the conversation on these important issues has begun, and I look forward to further collaboration in this legislative session.”

Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), who is among the local legislators who criticized the ADU legislation, thanked the governor for listening to the concerns of local governments in a press statement. 

“There is no denying that we are currently facing an affordable housing crisis and the construction of ADUs will surely be a component of state and local governments’ response,” he said. “However, inflicting a one-size-fits-all mandate that supersedes the constitutional right of our cities, towns and villages to zone and enact comprehensive planning is ill-considered.”

He said he and many of his colleagues hope to see ADUs implemented in a way that’s “compatible with each community’s water quality, resources, transportation and infrastructure needs” and emphasized his commitment to working with local governments to increase affordable housing.

Trustee Julia Robins, an advocate for affordable housing, told The Suffolk Times last week that while she supports “the concept of the governor’s ADU bill,” she understands “the pushback local governments have with a mandate for the creation of affordable accessory units.”

“We are in a housing crisis that is unprecedented in New York as well as many parts of the country,” she said. “The governor’s concept is good but the means to create ADUs should be the responsibility of the communities who desperately need housing for their retail and service workers, first responders, teachers and tradespeople.”

Ms. Robins recently founded a housing task force in the village, which is discussing ADUs “as a potentially effective strategy to address the crisis,” she said. 

After discussing the governor’s revoked proposal last Thursday, village trustees moved on to discuss proposed legislation in Greenport that could more widely allow accessory apartments. Board members were tasked to express concerns and thoughts on the legislative draft to the village attorney. The current draft includes a provision that could include concessions for affordable accessory apartments. 

Mayor George Hubbard expressed hope that a public hearing on the legislation could be scheduled in a month or so, but trustee Mary Bess Phillips told The Suffolk Times after the meeting “the discussion needs to continue until we have a general consensus from the full board.”